Around the house, around the yard, at work… On my days off it’s a lot worse.
It’s like I can’t relax, I can’t rest. The longer I sit still, the more upset I get. I have to move. I have to do something.
At work, it’s not so bad. There’s plenty to do, so I just stay busy. But when there’s a lull in how busy it should be, I’m moving. Because I can finally sit, for a minute. But the minute ticks by and I have to move.
This weekend should have been fun and relaxing. We went to visit a friend. And I was anxious the whole way up there. When we got there I started pacing. Sitting on the edge of the seat, fidgeting with my hands, pacing again. I finally took an Ativan, it helped a little. I’m having to take them a lot more.
The same thing happened today. More pacing. Another pill, this time I went and took a nap because I just couldn’t handle it.
I go to see the doctor Thursday. So I plan on telling her that I’m more anxious. That I’m having to take my emergency pills almost every day. That my sleeping patterns are still off and that I need some kind of help. Something needs to change. I can’t go around feeling like this all the time.
So I had a bad panic attack today. You know the kind… the shaking, can’t breathe, crying, feels like your heart is going to explode, all of it.
I would have been fine, maybe, if I had been able to distract myself, or if I had my emergency medicine. But I couldn’t. And I didn’t. So I felt like I was dying. To make matters worse, I was at work. I was on my lunch break. I should have been fine.
Those of us who deal with panic attacks on a daily basis know that they can come from nowhere, can be triggered by anything, even when you are doing nothing at all. Including sitting outside on your lunch break.
Personally, even though I know all of this, panic attacks make me mad. I know that it’s a system misfiring, my fight or flight system going off when there is no apparent danger to me, I know this. I know I have panic attacks. I know that I have a panic disorder. But they make me mad. Because, in the end of it all, I feel stupid. I feel like I should be able to handle myself at work, even with the stress, because I do work a stressful job that likes to throw me some curve balls. I feel like I should have a good reason to be triggered. And sitting outside on my lunch break before I have to go back to work should not be a trigger. Work should not be a trigger.
It takes so much out of me when I have a panic attack, especially ones like today. With the shaking and everything, I’m just worn out. And of course, all I wanted to do was go home. So I did the only rational thing I could do, ask to go home. Well… that only got some raised eyebrows. Why? Because I couldn’t find the DSO, the one in charge that would tell me if I could go home or not, and when someone finally got ahold of them all I got was “Go to the ER”. So this nurse puts me in a wheelchair and is wheeling me down to the ER, and I’m just trying to remember to breathe and not bawl my eyes out while saying I don’t want to go to the ER, I just need to go home. We get there, and they all look at me to check in. Another nurse from the ER comes up and asks me what’s wrong and I tell her that I’m having a panic attack and that the DSO sent me down here. And she said something about me not having chest pain or being short of breath. Well, duh. So I calm down enough to call the DSO, she’s still telling me to go to the ER. I say fine and I call my husband to come and get me. I go and grab my things from the 4th floor. And tell them that I’m leaving, noticing that they are making a call to the DSO too. So this is just turning into a mess and a half.
I finally clock out and just leave the building. And while I’m waiting on my husband, my boss texts me and asks not so politely why I’m leaving in the middle of my shift. And lo and behold, there she is, pulling up next to me. “You, I need to talk to you. Walk over here.” So I follow her. And she’s got her hands on her hips and asking me what’s going on. I explain again, and start crying again, because I’m still having a panic attack and she’s only making it worse. “Well I don’t understand how you can have a panic attack while you’re on your lunch break.” Well aren’t you lucky that you don’t have to know how it feels?
So I’m probably going to be written up for sure this time, because she told me this counts as an absence. And she’s telling me that I’m not dependable and she needs dependable people she can trust to do their job. And I totally get it. And I’m trying to be that person. But I couldn’t be that person today. Because when I’m having a panic attack, it’s not safe for my patients. I can’t focus like that. She tells me that I need to see a doctor and suggested that I go to the ER. The thing with going to the ER is that nothing is going to be done there. It’s a panic attack, not a heart attack. They will send me home.
But this got me to thinking, how many people truly don’t understand how debilitating a panic attack can be? And instead of being so hard on someone about it, why wouldn’t you want to help them? I understand she’s a boss, and it’s her job to be tough and get things done. I get it, I really do. But when you have an employee crying in the parking lot, I would imagine a little compassion can go a lot further.
Panic attacks are weird things. People experience them in different ways. Whether they are being silent and staring off into the distance, or making a scene (like I did today). Panic does things to people. And I doubt that any two people go through them the exact same way. I shake, my face turns red, my heart beats fast, I hyperventilate. But there are times, too, when I have a panic attack and I simply get sick to my stomach, or stare off into space.
For those who need a little further explaination:
“A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you’re losing control, having a heart attack, or even dying. Panic attacks typically begin suddenly, without warning. They can strike at any time – when you’re driving a car, at the mall, sound asleep or in the middle of a business meeting. You may have occsional panica attacks or they may occur frequently.
Panic attacks have many variations, but symptoms usually peak within minutes. You may feel fatigued and worn out after a panic attack subsides.
Panic attacks typically include some of these symptoms:
- sense of impending doom or danger
- fear of loss of control or dying
- rapid, pounding heart rate
- trembling, shaking
- shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
- hot flashes
- abdominal cramping
- dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness
- numbness or tingling sensation
- feeling of unreality or detachment”
So a lot goes into a panic attack. And if you have panic attacks and face each day the best way you can, you’re a bad ass. Just saying.
I’m doing better now. Just resting. I hope everyone has a great day.
Self care is an important issue when dealing when mental health. It’s one of those things we seem to neglect some times, especially when we are in a low swing.
Here are some tips to help with self care:
1. Be sure to get some sleep: It’s hard to do when you’re having an episode of mania or when you work a crazy schedule. But your body needs sleep. It’s how you process information and your body restores systems. Try to schedule it to where you can get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. If you are having trouble sleeping, you may want to talk to your doctor and let them know that you aren’t getting enough sleep at night and discuss a good course of action. My doctor was kind enough to prescribe a sleep aid for me. Some times, I still don’t get enough sleep, but that’s my own fault for being a night owl.
2. Drink plenty of water: Water is great for the body! I’m not going to ask you to drink a gallon of water a day, but you do need to drink more than 8 oz of water a day. Your body needs water, considering you are mostly water. Daily activity drains you of water. And drinking a soda does not count as water. Drink up!
3. Make sure you eat: Believe it or not, breakfast is important, though I usually skip breakfast because I’m running out the door in the morning. But your body needs food. And when you’re manic, you might not notice that you’re not eating. Please try to remember to eat at least 3 meals a day. Maybe have a light snack in between meals, something healthy?
4. Listen to your body: This can be as simple as “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired”. If you need to take a nap, find the time to take one, and if you need to eat, find something to eat. Your body knows what it needs you just have to listen to it.
5. Make a wellness toolbox: A wellness toolbox can look like anything. Most people have a box with a few of their favorite things in it. Some have a journal and pen, music, a favorite book, a stuffed animal, it can really be anything. But it’s like something that will help cheer you up.
6. Take a shower: Even on the days that you don’t want to get out of bed, getting up and taking a shower can do wonders for you. Yes, it requires some energy, and it may take some coaxing, but you can do it, and you will feel better.
7. Go for a walk: If the weather is nice, go for a walk, especially on sunny days. Your body will thank you for the sunshine. It gets your body moving and your heart pumping.
8. Call a friend: Sometimes it’s nice just to hear someone else’s voice other than your own. Plus, it’s a great way to catch up.
9. Play with a furry friend: Dogs and cats have been shown to reduce depression. If you have a pet, play with them or simply take some time to pet them. It makes them feel good and you too.
10. Journal: Journals are great tools. They can be set up in any way, shape, or form. They can be scattered thoughts, or bullet journals with concise lists. A journal is for your own thoughts on the day, on something that is bothering you, maybe some poetry, anything you want.
Hopefully, some of these tips help. Keep your chin up!
I feel myself being crushed in the darkness that surrounds me.
The darkness that calls itself depression.
I know I’ve been here before.
I know I can survive this fight.
I know that I just have to keep swimming, keep trying.
But as another wave hits, my resolve weakens.
The waves take me prisoner.
Trapped in the dark despair that I’ve repressed before.
Keep your head above the water.
You’ve been here before.
You’ve survived this before.